University of Alabama at Birmingham

The Faculty Senate

Minutes of Faculty Senate Meeting, March 11, 2003


LOCATION:  University Center Great Hall


PRESENT: Officers:  Dr. Tim Heaven (Chair), Dr. John Smith (Chair-Elect),

Dr. Marcus Hickson III (Past-Chair), Dr. Theodore Benditt (Secretary),

Dr. John Wittig (Parliamentarian)

                     Senators:  Dr. James Alexander, Dr. Peter Anderson, Mr. Craig Beard,

Dr. Edwin Cook, Dr. James Davidson, Dr. Susan Davies, Dr. Kurt Denninghoff,

Dr. Evangelos Eleftherious, Dr. Daniel Givan, Ms. Elen Griffin, Dr. Jeanne Hutchison,

Dr. Timothy Kraft, Dr. George Liber, Dr. James Martin,

Dr. Warren Martin, Dr. Bruce McComiskey, Dr. Stephen Moser, Dr. Beverly Mulvihill,

Dr. William Ogard, Dr. Linda Reed, Dr. Gary Sapp, Dr. Ken Waites, Dr. Bettye Wilson

                  Alternate Senators:  Dr. Gerald Glandon, Dr. Debra Laken, Dr. Mark Lockhart,

Ms. Heather Martin, Dr. Jay Meythaler, Dr. Jay Smith, Dr. Joseph Telfair, Dr. Penelope Wright

                  Guests:  Mr. David Anthony, Mr. Rick Burns, Dr. Bob Holmes, Mr. James Lowery




1. Call to Order


The chair called the meeting to order at 7:38 a.m.


2. Recognition of Visitors


Mr. Jim Williams, Dr. Bob Holmes, Mr. David Anthony



3. Adoption of Minutes of January 14, 2002 meeting


The minutes of the meeting of February 11, 2003 were approved as distributed.


4. State Revenue Forecast


Senate Chair Tim Heaven (Dentistry) outlined the condition of state revenues with particular reference to higher education. The current forecast for the Education Trust Fund is a shortfall of  $300M - $500M for FY 2004.  Some of the problem is due to the declining economy (though see James Williams’ report, below); for example, state income tax receipts, which make up 52% of the Education Trust Fund, declined 1.58% in 2002, something that has never happened before.  In addition, expenses from the ETF for the Teachers Retirement System will increase by $51M and for the K-14 health plan by $90M.  The state will deal with the financial crisis by some combination of increased taxes, decreased services, and borrowing.  At the same time the crisis provides the occasion for fundamental reform of the educational system as well as the tax structure that supports it.

5. Alabama Tax Structure. 


Mr. James Williams, Jr., Executive Director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, gave an overview of the Alabama tax situation and the need for reform, including reform in higher education.  The problem, he said, is not simply the poor economy: the Education Trust Fund has been flat for five years, while expenditures have risen.  A more significant factor is that per capita tax revenue in Alabama is the lowest in the United States.  Reform is needed, but the governor must first be sure that there are proper fiscal controls and that higher education is performing appropriately.  Some of the issues to be examined are: Alabama has great accessibility to higher education (there are more places available per capita than in most other states), but expenditures per student are very low (“The unanimous judgment in 49 other states is that we do not collect enough tax revenue to operate adequate services”).  There is a higher proportion of out-of-state students than in most states, and no studies have been done to learn how many of these students remain in Alabama.  There is considerable duplication of programs in the state, and no studies showing how many students educated in these programs remain in the state—Alabama may be funding the education of the work force of other states.  There is a problem in the state regarding admission standards and graduation rates, and whether the two-year system is being properly utilized.  Earmarking of funds is higher in Alabama than in other states, and there are a number of non-education programs funded from the Education Trust Fund.


Dr. Mark Hickson (Past Chair; Arts and Humanities) asked whether the state will compensate institutions that reduce the number of students they enroll.  Mr. Williams answered that it is a challenge, but he is hopeful that it can be done. 


Dr. Joseph Telfair (Public Health) asked where Mr. Williams thinks we are going.  Mr. Williams said that the rainy day fund will help a bit but that the state needs a plan.  He also said that there will have to be spending reforms before the governor will ask for tax increases.  The governor must come up with a plan by October 1 or everyone will be cut back.


Dr. John Smith (Chair-elect; Pathology) asked how we are to measure accountability in programs like engineering and business.  Mr. Williams answered that the educators need to answer this, and must give answers everyone can understand.


Prof. James Alexander (Arts and Humanities) asked whether there is the political will in the state to consolidate institutions.  Mr. Williams said that there are different answers for the different types of education systems.  The two-year institutions have been merging—they have reduced from 43 institutions to 26 with a goal of 21.  They are able to do this because of a centralized governance structure, whereas the four-year institutions do not have such a structure.  Mr. Williams said that he understood the governor is opposed to the idea of a state-wide board of regents.








6. Initiative for Life Sciences Entrepreneurship. 


Dean Robert Holmes (Business) and Mr. David Anthony (Interim Executive Director, ILSE) explained the Initiative for Life Sciences Entrepreneurship, which is designed to educate scientists, engineers, and others involved in developing marketable and patentable ideas about how to position them for the market and secure investment capital.  “In essence, the ILSE will be creating the entrepreneurial environment necessary to transform Birmingham into a Tier 1 Biotech region.”  The program involves academic course development (especially the course “Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital”), an internship program, advanced education seminars and conferences, and new venture development.  The ILSE will act as a feeder for OADI and the Birmingham venture community and will interact with the UAB Research Foundation.


Dr. Kurt Denninghoff (Medicine) asked whether the purpose of the program is learning or providing a service to the community.  Dr. Holmes said it is both.  Dr. Denninghoff said that in order to learn, students must work through a successful program where the outcome is known, and again raised the question of whether this is an educational program or not.  Mr. Anthony said that students will be getting background information in close conjunction with him; they will not be ‘turned loose’ to come up with ‘the answer.’  They get background information and learn in the process.  Dr. Richard Burns (Business) said that in order for new ideas to work there is a need for management and venture capital.  Dr. Warren Martin (Business) said that in order to learn, students must do; students learn from process.  Dr. John Smith said that students can learn also from attending the meetings of the proposed Science Advisory Board.




7. Revision of Faculty Handbook


The Senate received from its Faculty Affairs Committee proposed revisions of section 2.0 and appendices A, B, and C, which have to do with faculty appointments, termination, and grievances.  They will be considered at a future meeting and are available on the Senate website.  Dr. Timothy Kraft (Optometry) asked why these changes have been made.  Dr. Hickson said the changes are a result of a periodic revision.  Dr. Kraft asked how we can find out what the changes are.  Dr. Heaven said they will be on the website [].  Dr. Telfair explained that language in the policies needed clarification and that there were gaps in the policies.  There were also some substantive changes to improve the grievance process.  Dr. Kraft asked with the time frame is for this.  Dr. Hickson said that there is no deadline.




8. Revision of Sick Leave Policy


The Senate unanimously approved a change in the sick leave policy that extends the policy from authorizing sick leave connected with those living in one’s household by adding the words “and immediate family”.




9. Curriculum and Research Committee Report


Senator Charles Falany (Pharmacology; Chair, Curriculum and Research Committee) presented proposed changes to the 2003-04 academic calendar.  In the proposal there are no classes held on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving; this is not a faculty holiday, it is simply a day on which no classes are held.  In the spring term there are two study days between the end of classes and the beginning of finals; there was no space in the fall calendar to have dedicated study days, though there will be a weekend between classes and exams.  Spring break will be moved back a week in an attempt to coincide with local school systems and other universities.  Other aspects of the calendar that are seen as presenting problems will be addressed later.


Dr. George Liber (S&BS) asked whether there is the possibility of altering the calendar so that classes will be offered in M-W, T-TH formats.  Dr. Falany said that that would be a major change, that there are problems about the availability of classroom space, especially labs, and that the issue has been deferred.


10. Open Forum


There was no discussion.


11. Adjournment


The meeting was adjourned at 9:29 a.m.


PREPARED BY:  Theodore M. Benditt, Secretary of the Faculty